All the Precious Little Things

Thunder woke Emily and me up in the wee hours. Knowing how scared Emily gets of storms, I went in to lie by her for a little while. It was one of those sweet Mama and daughter times, when you remember how quickly time flies and how dear these passing moments are.  One of those times when you can just be in silence together and understand. I felt her small arm creep around me when there was another crash of thunder, and I remembered how very comforting it is to have someone you love nearby in a storm.

With Mother’s Day recently passed, I wanted to elaborate on a comment I made today on Facebook about mothers. There is a terrible assumption in Western culture that you must, necessarily, pass through a phase where you despise your mother as a teen daughter. If you don’t have screaming matches, constant battles and open warfare, you probably aren’t normal.

Our culture plays up generational differences in entertainment and advertising, repeating the lie that our mothers always have to embarrass us, always have to be viewed as stupid,  that mothers are the enemy of fun and coolness, and that teen girls must revolt against the oppression and over-protection. What a tragic and false line of thinking.

As a teenager, I remember being in a restroom with other girls in front of the mirror, applying their make-up and chatting. One of the girls called her mother a “bitch.” It stunned me, and the reason it stunned me was that I loved my mom. It wasn’t that there were never any misunderstandings. It wasn’t that I was some perfect daughter. (I regret not getting my head out of the clouds and helping her more with housework and things I could have done to lift her load. As a mother of grown children, I think of Mom’s labors and sacrifices more every day.)   But the thought of hating her as a teenager? Not within the realm of possibility. It made me sick hearing it.

I realize girls and moms can have opposite personalities, situations differ, and our culture has changed. But it is a moral sickness to assume that daughters have to hate their moms in the teen years to be normal.  Instilling respect, compassion, empathy in our daughters is something we have to work at. It will not come passively, because the culture disciples and indoctrinates in a very systematic way.

One way that I work to achieve empathy and compassion is to remind our youngest, the only one still at home, that I do need help. Children who are waited on and not asked to do their part within the home become the entitled brats we see who fail to launch. I want her to see people with lenses that show the burdens others carry in this life, and to adjust her own demands in light of those things.  That is a check to selfishness, and a call to usefulness and kindness. Our children need this desperately in our age of entitlement.

There are no guarantees that our children will not go through a stage of selfishness and dislike for mothers (or fathers.) But don’t assume it’is necessary, and working on a strong relationship of trust and love will help mitigate the toxic assumptions this world promotes.

As a P.S., one of my favorite memories is of my mom french braiding my long hair in high school. I never did manage to do it myself. She would get up early sometimes, even when tired, to do it for me.  Bless you, Mom, for all those precious, little things.  ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Raising Children in a Porn-Filled World

picWe have no idea what even young children are exposed to in this age of technology. The tidal wave of video pornography, made available thanks to things like mobile phones, has swept over our heads in this country, directly impacting our children. So great is the effect of  mass porn consumption that even secular mainstream media is covering the damage and dangers of it. (See recent Time Magazine cover story on it.) Also, see this article from Relevant Magazine, This is Your Brain on Porn. It’s a drug, and a dangerous one.

Chronic use of pornography, brains swimming in it from as young as 9 or 10, has created a health crisis where young men are finding their bodies can’t even function normally without the stimulation of porn, leading to use and abuse of medications once used only by middle-aged men. Porn changes not only brains but bodies. The damage to relationships with women, who are now expected to look and perform like porn stars, and the destruction of marriages are also tragic consequences of America’s obsession.

The Barna Group has just released a study on this. You can read about it here.

If you are concerned about what is coming into your home via the internet, please check out this video below from Covenant Eyes. This company produces software to filter out porn, and it’s available to homes and businesses.

This is not a time for passivity if we love our families. Awareness is the place to start. Wisdom sees a danger to our families and provides for it.  Nothing is more important.

Also, Focus on the Family has a series called When Children View Porn that may be of help to you. If you or someone you love is struggling with porn, back in my radio days I interviewed the Gallaghers, a couple with a ministry that helps those who want to be free from the bondage of pornography to get help.  I highly recommend Pure Life Ministries.

He Came Running

Emmy took a tumble down the stairs yesterday. She was more scared than hurt. But she cried for a while.

“Why did you come running so fast, Daddy?” she asked.

“To see if you were hurt,” he answered.

At six, Emmy is getting big. But her dad picked her up from the bottom of the stairs, and she sat on his lap for a while.

She is blessed with this dad of hers. Many don’t have a dad to come running. Some dads don’t care, and the worst willingly inflict pain on their kids.

Watching Tom with the kids is a study in how much fathers can mean in the lives of their children.  Will is 19, but calls frequently to talk with his dad. I can hear them in conversation, laughing, talking about everything going on, big and small, sports, politics, music, plans. Will has many friends, but his best male friend is his dad. He doesn’t have to say it, I see it in how the two relate, especially since Will has reached young adulthood.

Dads don’t realize what a powerful thing it is to be there,  just taking a call or making a call. It’s only a conversation. Nothing much. But those times color the entire life of the child they take time for.   These fathers give a lifelong blessing to their kids. What a gift — to know they were wanted by their father. To know that whatever else happens in their lives, they had a dad who loved them.

That when they were hurt, he came running.

001

Afternoon Chat

CocoaWithEmEmily was chilly after school one afternoon.  We had come in from the bitter cold wind, and with a -25 degree windchill, it felt awfully good to get in to the warmth of the house.

I made cocoa with marshmallows and poured it into our china cups just for fun. Then my little daughter and I sat and talked.

Conversation with children will take you around the world and back. Emily is especially good at bringing up random topics that keep your mind swirling. Flying fish are on her mind lately. Why do they fly, where do they fly, why do some fish have wings and not others? Then it was on to sea horses and bits and pieces she learned about  them on a children’s science program. After that, the subject was her intention to invent a vending machine that would shoot out fruit and vegetables instead of things that were bad for you. She said she had drawn a plan for it and asked if I would like to see it when her cocoa was finished.

Then the subject turned to table manners when her attempt to cool the cocoa shot melting marshmallows onto the tablecloth. The negative social aspects of slurping hot beverages and soup was next on the conversational docket.

Listening to her, I thought again of how much information is exchanged in the most casual of circumstances at home with a parent. It’s not formal teaching, but children are learning anyway. By watching and listening and weighing and asking, they are being formed as people.

The times I value most with my children are the talks we have had in the van or in the kitchen or at the table. You learn a lot about who they are as people just by listening to them, and you have the chance to shape their values, hopefully in a good way,  by being engaged with them in the simple act of conversation.

The subject turned to books as we have bookshelves in the dining room, living room and her bedroom. She hauls them off the shelf frequently and asks me to tell her what each book is about. My old edition of Heidi interests her with the beautiful drawings of the goats and the Alps.  That leads to questions about where the Alps are on the globe. This is how children learn, and it’s fascinating to watch.

roseatespoonbillEmily’s other passion is birds.  She has learned a lot about them from a large book we were given about the birds of North America. There is a button you can push to hear the call of each bird. Her favorite is the Roseate Spoonbill because of its gorgeous pink color and big wings. The book is a real treasury.

Birds and flying fish and sea horses and vending machines and manners. Such is the mind of a child, soaking up knowledge like a sponge. Conversation, I believe, is the primary learning tool for children, and the beauty of it is that you not only can convey knowledge, you help build a relationship of trust and love in the process.